“My entire SDM team is one village, even though they each support me with a particular part of my life, they all know everything about me.”
Trina Hazell

Ketrina Hazell’s Supported Decision-Making Journey

Ketrina is a 27-year-old disability and “everything” advocate, a motivational speaker, and a blogger from Brooklyn, New York. She received her associate degree in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College in 2020. She is the founder of Disability Champion Mentoring Network and serves on many disability-related councils. She works as the advocacy lead for the Regional Center for Workforce Transformation (RCWT).

Transitioning from High School
During transition planning from high school, Ketrina felt that she did not have a voice. She was steered toward a day program for individuals with disabilities instead of toward a job or college. As soon as she turned 18, both school staff and her case manager suggested her mom apply for guardianship. Her parents listened to Ketrina when she said to them, “If a person was under guardianship, they wouldn’t have the right to vote… you would be my voice without me even saying anything.” While they did not pursue guardianship, they were unaware of alternatives that could help them better support Ketrina to make her own decisions.

Using Supported Decision-Making
Ketrina attended a workshop where she learned about supported decision-making (SDM). After the training, “it was like a light bulb went off in my head” she noted. Ketrina knew she would have to explain SDM to her parents. Since her parents and her two siblings had always been her primary supports, they might not understand the need for additional decision-making supporters. Because of their background and culture, Ketrina’s parents were not used to getting help from “outsiders.” Ketrina recruited a respected family member to talk to her parents about why it’s important for her to have a supported decision-making team. Her godmother was able to get her mom’s approval.

Soon, Ketrina’s SDM team was made up of people who had already supported her with certain decisions. These included her mom, her godmother, her high school paraprofessional, a former transition educator, and a former service provider support staff (who considers Trina a friend). As Ketrina puts it, “my entire SDM team is one village, even though they each support me with a particular part of my life, they all know everything about me.”

Ketrina’s supporters help her make a variety of decisions. One key decision that the team helped her make was to go to college. Ketrina’s high school paraprofessional supported her with her college applications. A former counselor supported Trina to access different support systems once she was enrolled. When Ketrina needed a break from college, the team supported her decision to take some time off but continued to check in regularly about when she would re-enroll. When she graduated with her associate degree, the team celebrated with her, and then encouraged her to identify her next adventure toward achieving her goals and dreams.

Ketrina’s Advice to Young People about SDM
Ketrina knows that it can be hard to connect with mentors and people who will support you. Building a whole decision-making team can be daunting! Start with one trusted person at a time who can help you build your team and connect with others.

Trina and her supporters

From top left clockwise: 1) Trina and her education supporter Alia at the college Trina attended, 2) Trina and her supporter Annimarie, a former paraprofessional from high school, 3) Trina with her friend and supporter, Danette, 4) Trina and her supporters at an SDM signing ceremony in 2018 at Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. Pictured from left: Trina’s godmother Nelle, Trina’s mom, and an SDM  facilitator.

                  Beverly and Arnet Hazell (parents) with Trina who was an honored keynote speaker at a Gift of Life USA gala in 2018.